Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) Community Reviews - Find out where to download Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) available in multiple formats:Paperback,Hardcover Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) Author:Bryan Peterson Formats:Paperback,Hardcover Publication Date:Aug 1, 2004


More than 100 vivid, graphic comparison pictures illustrate
every point in this revised classic and can help any photographer
maximize the creative impact of his or her exposure decisions. Peterson
stresses the importance of metering the subject for a starting exposure,
and then explains how to use various exposure meters and different
kinds of lighting. The book contains lessons on each element of the
exposure-aperature, shutter speed, iso-and how it relates to the other
two in terms of depth of field, freezing and blurring action, and
shooting in low light or at night. A section on special techniques
explores such options as deliberate under- and overexposures, how to
produce double exposures, bracketing, shooting the moon, and the use of
filters. Understanding Exposure demonstrates that there are
always creative choices about how to expose a picture-and that the
decision is up to the photographer, not the camera.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition):

5

Jan 05, 2010

A true teacher and entertainer, Bryan Peterson writes as if he were walking students through a fun lecture course on photography. He introduces phrases that he uses again and again so that you, the student, start to fill in the answers before he finishes; he explains tricky technical details through memorable metaphor; he ties theory to his own photography, showing us just where he took his metering, and why. Halfway through the book you feel like a second semester student filling in all the A true teacher and entertainer, Bryan Peterson writes as if he were walking students through a fun lecture course on photography. He introduces phrases that he uses again and again so that you, the student, start to fill in the answers before he finishes; he explains tricky technical details through memorable metaphor; he ties theory to his own photography, showing us just where he took his metering, and why. Halfway through the book you feel like a second semester student filling in all the jokes ahead of time and snapping away happily, picking up the extra details you missed before.

It made me giddy, that feeling, and I had to laugh and give the book a kiss in gratitude when I realized what had happened. I'd gotten it. I understood exposure; shutter speed and aperture were no longer mysteries to me. Depth of field, no problem; light metering, a cinch!

Focal length he skipped completely, and he rushed through filters as if the bell were about to ring, but for an explanation and introduction to exposure and stretching my camera skills, I give this book 5 stars.

...more
3

Oct 25, 2012

A few thoughts:

1) Not the fault of the book, but I knew much (maybe 50%) of the material already.

2) It has beautiful photos, with explanations on how each was made. This was very useful.

3) The writing is lousy, with silly and unhelpful analogies. ISO is like buckets under a running water faucet? And stupid attempts at humor or something resembling it: the author doesn't eat donuts, but he does eat bagels and so will sometimes use a ring flash. Get it? Bagels are round and a ring flash is A few thoughts:

1) Not the fault of the book, but I knew much (maybe 50%) of the material already.

2) It has beautiful photos, with explanations on how each was made. This was very useful.

3) The writing is lousy, with silly and unhelpful analogies. ISO is like buckets under a running water faucet? And stupid attempts at humor or something resembling it: the author doesn't eat donuts, but he does eat bagels and so will sometimes use a ring flash. Get it? Bagels are round and a ring flash is round. Good one.

4) The tone often comes off defensive or at least trying to justify his viewpoint (e.g. setting WB to "Cloudy" as default). Also, it's interesting how he downplays the importance of light in making photographs. It comes off as, "Hey, everybody says light is the most important thing in photography. Well, it's not! Aperture and shutter speed control are what makes a great photo. Light is secondary. All those other guys have their priorities screwed up." This isn't a direct quote, of course, but I came away with this feeling.

...more
5

Jun 26, 2009

I couldn't put this book down! I read almost all of it in one sitting. I am a very amateur photographer and I learned so much from this book. I learned the value of the manual setting and how to properly use it. I learned from where to meter light. I had no idea there was a problem metering light from black and from white images. I learned many insights into creatively composed images and how to make them. Very informative and well laid out. Easy to understand.
4

May 01, 2013

This was an excellent book for beginners. It's also a great book for the more experienced. It is useless for a pro or advanced amateur photographer. The author gives a very easy to understand method for getting the correct "creative" exposure on any camera. He explains the three most important aspects and how to use them. They are ISO, aperture and shutter. He explains white balance. He explains the use of the flash. He tells you how to meter. He really helps get you out of using the "Auto" This was an excellent book for beginners. It's also a great book for the more experienced. It is useless for a pro or advanced amateur photographer. The author gives a very easy to understand method for getting the correct "creative" exposure on any camera. He explains the three most important aspects and how to use them. They are ISO, aperture and shutter. He explains white balance. He explains the use of the flash. He tells you how to meter. He really helps get you out of using the "Auto" mode.

I already knew that a smaller aperture yields a larger depth of field and vice versa, but the author made me much more comfortable knowing which aperture to use in which situation. He explains what he calls the 'who cares' aperture settings of f/8 and f/11 and when you do want to use the and why.

It really is an excellent book for understanding exposure, which is at the heart of a good photograph.

The reason I didn't give it five stars is because there were some things that were glossed over and some things that were not as well explained as I thought they could be. Mind you, they were mostly minor.

For instance, I think he could have explained a little bit about the appropriate lens to use in different situations. He does do this a little, but I think it would have been nice if he had used different lenses in the same situation and compared the photographs as he did with white balance and F-stop. As an example, I've been having a problem shooting people moving about in an indoor venue. Going with a prime focus (not a zoom) lens with a lower F-stop would help this situation. Sure it won't cure the problem. Sometimes, you just don't have the light to do what you want, but he didn't even mention this. I think he could have had a whole section just for lenses.

It seemed that nearly all of his shots were done with a tri-pod. There was a brief explanation of what to look for in a tri-pod, but I think he could have been more in depth with that. Yes, it's not directly related to exposure, but considering his heavy use of the tri-pod, I think it would have fit into the topic.

He mentioned that he thought the histogram was highly overrated and said nothing more about it. I will have to seek that information elsewhere.

He does explain a bit about HDR photography. This stands for high dynamic range and involves combining multiple photographs of the same subject at different settings to yield a single photograph with more detail or special properties that cannot be achieved with a single photo. During this discussion, he mentioned using bracketing on the camera. I've heard of that but I have no idea what that means. I was hoping that would be something he would explain.

He explains a little about how he gets extreme depth of field for landscape shots. He says something like this, "I set my aperture to f/22, my lens to 35mm, meter on the sky to get the appropriate shutter speed. Then, in manual, I focus on my foot and shoot using that focus. It will be blurry in the viewfinder but everything from about 2 feet in front of me to infinity will be in focus after I take the photo." I like this because I had no idea that the viewfinder could be out of focus, but the picture would be in focus. I also like that he shows how to get a very high depth of field. This technique is called hyperfocus. He never mentions that term, but in theory, if you set your aperture differently or use a different lens setting, the focus would be different than his foot. You might have to focus 10 feet away. If you look up hyperfocus photography online, you will find charts and even phone apps that will tell you how far out to focus with different settings. Maybe it's not that important. I don't know because I don't have a lot of experience with this, but I think it was a missed opportunity for him to go into a little more detail. I was paraphrasing above, by the bye.

Every photo has information about how the photo was taken. I think he did a great job with this, but I do wish he would put all of the information for every photo. Every photo had the focal length, shutter speed and aperture, but he usually only included the ISO when he was discussing ISO. It would have been nice to have it on every photo. In fact, I would have liked to see what camera he used and some details about the lens, too.

As some others have mentioned, the humor was a little odd. I agree with this, but it's not so odd as to be creepy or anything and at least he tried to lighten the subject. I'm all for that.

I would like to emphasize that my complaints are minor and that the author does a great job of really getting into exposure.

The most important thing to know about this book is that it is called "Understanding Exposure," not "How to use your camera," not "How to take a picture." It's all about getting the proper exposure so don't expect any detail on purchasing decisions, specific set-ups (shooting cars, shooting babies, underwater photography, etc.). There are no diagrams in this book only photos. Some of them are truly stunning and he gives loads of information to help you produce similar photos. I highly recommend this book. ...more
4

Oct 31, 2011

I purchased Understanding Exposure from a book catalog to which I subscribe. I have a small collection of photography books, mostly information-related, and this seemed like a good one to add to the shelves.

This is Bryan Peterson's Revised Edition, with the subtitle of "How to Shoot Great Photographs with A Film of Digital Camera." I shot film for many decades, and switched to digital just a few years ago; I was ready for some more tips on how to get the best from my pixelated (maybe pixilated

I purchased Understanding Exposure from a book catalog to which I subscribe. I have a small collection of photography books, mostly information-related, and this seemed like a good one to add to the shelves.

This is Bryan Peterson's Revised Edition, with the subtitle of "How to Shoot Great Photographs with A Film of Digital Camera." I shot film for many decades, and switched to digital just a few years ago; I was ready for some more tips on how to get the best from my pixelated (maybe pixilated :-)) pictures.

The book didn't disappoint. Peterson presents fine examples with well-written text. I also liked that he stressed how to get the picture right when you take it, and not rely on photo-manipulation programs to make corrections. Although some of the information seemed very basic, I appreciated getting the information I already knew (or thought I did) from a new perspective--part of the learning process that I crave.

Recommended for both photographic newbies and experienced shutterbugs.


My Photo Art ...more
5

Oct 08, 2018

Most of us beginners know the basics of exposure > how shutter-speed, aperture and ISO can have an effect on the exposure. But we, as beginners, have little idea about how to get the correct exposure. And when it comes to the creative aspect of it, we are oblivious. This short but rich book covers a lot on exposure, and how to use the various aspects of it to your creative advantage. The photos included, and the corresponding scenario and the decisions he made at that scenario, let us know Most of us beginners know the basics of exposure > how shutter-speed, aperture and ISO can have an effect on the exposure. But we, as beginners, have little idea about how to get the correct exposure. And when it comes to the creative aspect of it, we are oblivious. This short but rich book covers a lot on exposure, and how to use the various aspects of it to your creative advantage. The photos included, and the corresponding scenario and the decisions he made at that scenario, let us know what goes through the mind of professional photographer when he takes a shot.

A must read for beginners.

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3

Sep 25, 2011

Understanding Exposure is regularly touted as the bible for understanding exposure; I guess it's lucky that Peterson titled the book as he did. I've had my copy for a while now – a generous Christmas or birthday present some years ago – and had kinda delayed even looking at it; somehow expecting some weighty tome of technical explanations. The subject is one that I pretty much felt I already had a good handle on – especially after the excellent (but sadly no longer available) article by Ryan Understanding Exposure is regularly touted as the bible for understanding exposure; I guess it's lucky that Peterson titled the book as he did. I've had my copy for a while now – a generous Christmas or birthday present some years ago – and had kinda delayed even looking at it; somehow expecting some weighty tome of technical explanations. The subject is one that I pretty much felt I already had a good handle on – especially after the excellent (but sadly no longer available) article by Ryan Brenizer on the Utata website. Obviously, I should avoid making these prejudicial decisions about my to-read books, as I'm so often proven wrong.

Instead, Peterson gives us a series of short, succinct, explanations of the three components of exposure – aperture, shutter-speed and ISO – and the relationships between them; along with plenty of photographic examples. When to use different apertures is explained through Peterson's concept of three ranges – the wide apertures for when you want shallow depth of field, the narrow apertures for deep depth of field and the "don't care" range for everything in the middle where you don't care about depth-of-field. Peterson keeps going back to this idea, selecting depth-of-field from the three ranges, then building shutter speed and ISO accordingly. It's pretty basic really, but this kinda makes sense, though it's a simple approach, and Peterson explains it well.

Peterson makes a great deal out of using metering as your starting point. He describes the various types of in-camera metering, all based on reflected-light metering, and frequently suggests that metering doesn't need to be in-camera, that handheld metering is also available. Yet, for some reason, he completely fails to describe any use of incident-light metering. He's happy to devote a chapter to the ever-tedious film vs. digital debate, but doesn't think the use of handheld meters worth even discussing.

Ultimately, I found the book a little too basic for my needs. I'm sure it's a brilliant explanation for people for whom the whole aperture/shutter speed/ISO thing hasn't quite clicked, but if it has there's little to pick up here. As such I wavered between two and three stars, but it's not Peterson's fault that this book isn't really for me, so I erred on the generous side. ...more
4

Jul 16, 2016

I really liked this book. I have an expensive camera that I don't know how to use effectively so this book was perfect for me! I was able to read it in one sitting and was kept interested throughout! After the read, I feel much more confident in using my DSLR. I'm obviously an amateur and I think this book is perfect for amateur's who want to better understand the manual mode of their DSLR. This book lays it out so effectively! I now better understand aperture, shutter speed, and white balance! I really liked this book. I have an expensive camera that I don't know how to use effectively so this book was perfect for me! I was able to read it in one sitting and was kept interested throughout! After the read, I feel much more confident in using my DSLR. I'm obviously an amateur and I think this book is perfect for amateur's who want to better understand the manual mode of their DSLR. This book lays it out so effectively! I now better understand aperture, shutter speed, and white balance! The author wrote this book in a way that I was able to easily understand things that I could never quite understand! I'm not sure it would be as good for those readers who already have a clear understanding of those concepts. But, either way, I definitely recommend it!

NOTE: received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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4

Feb 22, 2007

This is easily the best introductory photography book I've ever read. It was a great refresher for the photography stuff that I've forgotten over the last 15 years, full of concise, easily understood explanations of useful photographic techniques. Some of the writing is corny, and the mnemonic devices get old pretty fast, but I'd still recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the basics of shooting with an SLR.
4

Oct 20, 2017

Short and really insightful for people with no formal photography knowledge. A wealth of information on improving your photography. Skimps on more than a handful of things, flash photography being a big one. But the author says early on he was going to leave it out. And like I said, this is more for the beginner just getting into it.
5

Mar 09, 2017

Worth the read

This was an entertaining and informative read for a novice. I imagine I'll often revisit certain sections of the book!
4

May 18, 2018

Really wonderful read for any beginner to fresh professional. Great tone.
3

Jul 01, 2014

I wanted to give this book four stars, but came up one stop short. It is by turns incredibly illuminating then completely opaque. I definitely have a much better understanding of exposure after having read it, so in that sense, it's a rousing success. But getting there could have been a better journey. A few thoughts / criticisms:

1. No infographics: A few well-chosen illustrations could help make a lot of things clearer. One example would be a handy-dandy reference diagram that shows a 1-stop I wanted to give this book four stars, but came up one stop short. It is by turns incredibly illuminating then completely opaque. I definitely have a much better understanding of exposure after having read it, so in that sense, it's a rousing success. But getting there could have been a better journey. A few thoughts / criticisms:

1. No infographics: A few well-chosen illustrations could help make a lot of things clearer. One example would be a handy-dandy reference diagram that shows a 1-stop (or finer-grained) f-stop scale. Print it inside the cover so the reader can reference it; most people can't remember a scale that's multiples of the square root of 2.

2. Outdated content: The world of digital photography evolves very quickly, so this book (at 4 years of age for the Third Edition) feels like it was written when DSLRs first came onto the market. In other words, it's pretty outdated.

3. Get content in the right order: A lot of basic terminology should be covered up front. For example, there are countless times when the author references "taking a light meter reading." He doesn't actually say what he means by this until you're 75% of the way through the book. Many digital cameras now have three light-metering modes. Which one should you use? What's the difference? Do you use one over others in different circumstances? It's confusing not to have some of this terminology up front.

4. Manual Mode mania: This is a super nitty-gritty complaint, but the author has a way of phrasing one particular thing that's so essential, he repeats it probably a hundred times in the book. Every time I had to stop and parse what he was saying. The phrase in question is something like "I set my shutter speed to 1/60th sec and then adjusted my aperture until f/22 indicated a correct exposure." He uses the same basic phrase when speaking about setting aperture first, then shutter. The reason it's confusing is because he assumes you're always shooting in MANUAL mode. If you shoot using Aperture or Shutter priority, then every time he utters a phrase like this, it makes no sense, because the camera is automatically choosing a value to get the "right" exposure.

5. Connect content to the camera: There is precisely one illustration in this entire book that shows you a display you might see on a digital camera. He references features and functionality of cameras all over the place, but never really talks about how to do X, Y or Z with your camera. The most important thing left to the imagination is taking meter readings (see my point above). If you don't know how to properly target your metering AND use Auto-Exposure-Lock (AEL), you're pretty much hosed.

6. Complete the triangle: The bulk of the book talks about aperture and shutter speed, but he spends precious little time talking about the third leg of the exposure triangle: ISO. Given the fact that new cameras are totally ISO crazy, this needs more discussion. Maybe this is just a function of the book being out of date?

Anyway, my complaints aside, I'm glad I read the book. There's a lot of good stuff in there, especially the sample photographs with settings and explanations of how he achieved certain effects. The comparison photographs with different settings were also great illustrations of technique combined with results. ...more
4

Dec 20, 2015

I've been an occasional photographer for years, with some serious spells however I've taken it far more seriously for something over 10 years now. For many years I found "exposure" rather haphazard both in my knowledge and in the images I took. In the past 10 years I've learnt a lot from a variety of sources. Had I found then it this book would have been a useful part of that learning. This book has a good introduction to the subject and the language is sensible and accessible in the main.

I've been an occasional photographer for years, with some serious spells however I've taken it far more seriously for something over 10 years now. For many years I found "exposure" rather haphazard both in my knowledge and in the images I took. In the past 10 years I've learnt a lot from a variety of sources. Had I found then it this book would have been a useful part of that learning. This book has a good introduction to the subject and the language is sensible and accessible in the main.

Looking at the book in detail it covers the three basics of exposure - shutter speed, aperture & iso - in detail and effectively. There is good use of sample photographs illustrating different settings with discussion on them. The no nonsense approach to shutter speed and aperture (f stops) is very welcome and would suit those with relatively limited knowledge of the subject very well indeed. Once the basics had been covered I felt there were very good good tips on techniques and ideas to try out. There was very good consideration of the way different types of light affect an image and the best way to take such images. There was coverage of filters and their use. There was also quite a lot on the use of flash and issues with using it as well as possible extra equipment to consider.

For those who have a fair amount of experience there will probably be some reservations about this book. The book was originally published many years ago when cameras were very different indeed. While this is a full revision of the book I found it a little odd for example that the author referred to “super-high” ISO settings as being questionable. 10 years ago the camera I had had fairly poor high ISO performance which was one of the reasons I replaced it. The three I've had since then have all had very good performance at high ISOs and the use of higher ISO settings does allow photographers to worry less about tripods which is great for travel. Similarly there is mention of the "cost" of shooting multiple exposure shots which really is not really an issue in the digital age.

Possibly more importantly there is no real discussion of shooting RAW and what may be done in the way of post processing. While this may be a rather more modern development photographers such as Ansell Adams achieved much of their renown in the darkroom. The simple concept of "correct" exposure is actually not that simple and there are those who advocate "exposing to the right" (ETTR) as a matter of course for example. Fundamentally the author criticises the light metering within the camera. I understand that although again modern cameras are far better than they used to be. However the author whole rationale in the book is almost solely on using those in camera meters manually.

Worth noting maybe that wildlife/sport get very little mention nor monochrome photography. In the end there is much sensible advice for less experienced photographers here and many would benefit from a better understanding of the subject which should be helped by this book..

Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review

http://viewson.org.uk/non-fiction/und... ...more
3

Apr 26, 2011

This book provides the basics of shooting in manual mode and getting good exposures in a consistent fashion. Peterson clearly explains how the elements of your camera work together to produce different kinds of "creative" exposures, rather than the "correct" exposure you would get if you left it in Auto mode all the time. I did learn quite a bit from the book, and several things were clarified and I am no longer clueless about Manual mode.

However--

Peterson himself seems to be an "aperture This book provides the basics of shooting in manual mode and getting good exposures in a consistent fashion. Peterson clearly explains how the elements of your camera work together to produce different kinds of "creative" exposures, rather than the "correct" exposure you would get if you left it in Auto mode all the time. I did learn quite a bit from the book, and several things were clarified and I am no longer clueless about Manual mode.

However--

Peterson himself seems to be an "aperture first" kind of guy. He picks the aperture he wants to use and adjusts the shutter speed accordingly. For him, this works well because he shoots a lot of landscapes, cityscapes, and outdoor things that do not require short shutter speeds. This method works less well when one is trying to shoot moving children, indoors, or anything where you only have a few seconds to capture a moment. While he goes in-depth about how to choose the appropriate aperture for your situation (as long as your situation is outdoors and landscape-y), he does not devote the same space to choosing a good shutter speed for a variety of situations.

Peterson's writing style kind of annoyed me, with frequent references to the awesomeness of his life as a globe-travelling photographer. He also makes dreadful analogies that are at best grating and at worst unintelligible. I personally found his pictures to be exactly what he sells them as-- stock photography. I didn't find them particularly inspiring or creative, and by the end felt almost as though this was a guide to producing good pictures that would sell as stock photography (when what I was looking for was getting my pictures to turn out when taking them of family and everyday situations).

This guy has sold a bizillion books and pictures and has his own (expensive) online photography school, so he must be doing something right. And his pictures are much better than mine, of course. But I can't say that I understand the rave reviews over this book, since the examples are for a narrow range of use. ...more
4

Mar 04, 2013

"Understanding Exposure" is a must read for anyone venturing into the world of SLR photography for the first time. The 2010 update completely addresses, and, indeed, primarily focuses on, shooting digitally. Both Canon and Nikon are handled individually, while other notable manufactures get a mention here and there as well. Most surprisingly, within only the first 30 or 40 pages, I was able to shoot in full manual mode, and compose photographs that, while not prize-winning, were in focus and "Understanding Exposure" is a must read for anyone venturing into the world of SLR photography for the first time. The 2010 update completely addresses, and, indeed, primarily focuses on, shooting digitally. Both Canon and Nikon are handled individually, while other notable manufactures get a mention here and there as well. Most surprisingly, within only the first 30 or 40 pages, I was able to shoot in full manual mode, and compose photographs that, while not prize-winning, were in focus and exposed properly. The only caveats I would add to this review are these two: the subtitle ("How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera") is misleading. This book will be of little or no use to you without an SLR or micro 4/3rds camera. Secondly, there is essentially no discussion of indoor photography. While many of the examples in the book can be applied to indoors and outdoors, the focus is nearly 100% on outdoor shooting. Nevertheless, I could not recommend this more highly! ...more
5

May 27, 2016

I received a copy of this book from netgalley in return for a fair and honest review, and I'm grateful that I could take time to study every word. The opening statement is a hint to what kind of world is now available with my new skills: "Every photograph is a lie, but it is within that lie where a mountain of truth is revealed! And the climb towards that mountain of truth is greatly accelerated when one's steps are rooted in the simple understanding of exposure." We like to believe that digital I received a copy of this book from netgalley in return for a fair and honest review, and I'm grateful that I could take time to study every word. The opening statement is a hint to what kind of world is now available with my new skills: "Every photograph is a lie, but it is within that lie where a mountain of truth is revealed! And the climb towards that mountain of truth is greatly accelerated when one's steps are rooted in the simple understanding of exposure." We like to believe that digital cameras can do all the work, but what do they know? Only what we tell them; and if our communication skills are limited, then we still end up will dull tourist snaps. For so many years, camera exposure has been beyond my comprehension--notice that's a "was," because Peterson's explanations coupled with his straightforward exercises finally got through to me! ...more
5

Jun 07, 2016

*I requested from Blogging For Books*

Sharpening Skills
I always want to be better at photography and always wanting to sharpen my skills which is what this book has helped. I've picked up some new skills and a lot of things I had questions about and a LOT of things I didn't know. I will going back to review some things over when I forget.
5

Jan 02, 2016

Don't go to the photo course, read this book instead.
If you like me had on and off relationships with cameras and want to finally understand better what's going on and how to make the picture you want, that should be good book for you.
Though If you already sophisticated in light-meters and exposure-triangles, then it is not your book ;)
5

Mar 03, 2012

Been a while since i read this, but I remember it as being a very clear, enthusiastic and inspiring take on photography. Since exposure is so very crucial to all photography, this book is a much wider-ranging guide to all of photography than one would expect from just the title.
4

Feb 17, 2014

Pretty much a must have for learners. I feel like I know how to use my dSLR a lot better now. Only criticism is that he used some terms without explaining what it meant until 2/3s of the way through the book.
5

Jul 28, 2011

Great for beginner photographers. Very easy to read and understand. If you just got a digital SLR and need some direction, this is the best place to start!
3

Apr 30, 2018

Definitely has some useful advice and the author clearly knows photography. I also liked the "photographic triangle" metaphor used throughout the book and how the book focuses on the thought process / what parameter is key for each photo situation. I also liked the choice of example photos for each topic. However, a couple of things annoyed me quite a bit while reading the book:
1) The author is quite dead-set on manual mode without making a very good argument for it in a lot of situations. If Definitely has some useful advice and the author clearly knows photography. I also liked the "photographic triangle" metaphor used throughout the book and how the book focuses on the thought process / what parameter is key for each photo situation. I also liked the choice of example photos for each topic. However, a couple of things annoyed me quite a bit while reading the book:
1) The author is quite dead-set on manual mode without making a very good argument for it in a lot of situations. If you know what you want out of a photo and know how your camera is going to behave in semi-automatic, that should be totally fine to use. Sometimes the writing seemed a bit condescending towards anyone not following the full-manual mantra. I understand that in certain situations manual mode is going to be more useful, but the only part of the book where I bought this was when the author talked about night photography.
2) When describing the exposure of photos, Peterson elaborates a lot on the manual steps and this happens over and over. However, the manual steps don't really change, yet they are explained time and again. "...and simply adjust the [shutter speed, aperture] until the viewfinder indicates a correct exposure" is a phrase I had to read waaaaaaayyy toooooo often. Just cut it down to the essentials! Perhaps only focus on the important parameter that controls the look of the photo. How the reader gets from there to a correct exposure should be described once, not 100 times...
3) The amount of time the author spends describing his own behaviors makes it it seem a bit arrogant (cf. point 1 above). ...more
2

May 07, 2019

After just having read "The Photographer's Eye", a book so dense I couldn't consume more than four pages or so per day, I started "Understanding Exposure"—and read it in just a couple of days. Not because I liked it so much, but because it just didn't contain that much information.

The author is implicitly assuming that your main goal is slow-paced, methodical landscape photography. He literally scoffs at you for not carrying your tripod everywhere, for not using a full-frame camera, or for using After just having read "The Photographer's Eye", a book so dense I couldn't consume more than four pages or so per day, I started "Understanding Exposure"—and read it in just a couple of days. Not because I liked it so much, but because it just didn't contain that much information.

The author is implicitly assuming that your main goal is slow-paced, methodical landscape photography. He literally scoffs at you for not carrying your tripod everywhere, for not using a full-frame camera, or for using any kind of automation. If you're not shooting everything in manual, at base ISO, you are not a real photographer, he seems to say.

So take out your light meter, go to manual exposure, and switch off your autofocus, or this book is probably not for you. It was certainly not for me. As an amateur, I don't have infinite time to set up the perfect shot, and wait for the perfect dawn light. I even like to—gasp—use auto-ISO, -focus, and -white balance.

There is a lot of good information, and practical wisdom in this book, if you can read between the lines, ignore scores of irrelevant descriptions of camera settings, and generally translate knowledge from the film days to your modern camera. I just wish it were updated to account for modern technology, and didn't come off quite as condescendingly as it does. ...more
3

Jan 20, 2018

It's weird, sometimes you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why a book gets such good reviews. Don't get me wrong, it's genuinely not bad, but 5* is something that I'd leave for breathtaking, bookwise, and I'm pretty sure that this book isn't that.

So what's the problem? The title should be the first clue. Who uses film cameras these days? And yet, there it is in the title, which should tell you the book might tell you is a little dated. Don't get me wrong, it explains the concept It's weird, sometimes you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why a book gets such good reviews. Don't get me wrong, it's genuinely not bad, but 5* is something that I'd leave for breathtaking, bookwise, and I'm pretty sure that this book isn't that.

So what's the problem? The title should be the first clue. Who uses film cameras these days? And yet, there it is in the title, which should tell you the book might tell you is a little dated. Don't get me wrong, it explains the concept of exposure (and the relationship between ISO and aperture) well, but I kind of feel any good you tube channel could do the job just as well these days, and the best of those channels have more modern books to support the concepts they are trying to explain.

Second it can go on some. Maybe I'm getting more impatient in my late middle age, but there were times I was thinking enough already, how about encouraging us to go out and do some actual shooting?

This said, it means well, and tries hard to get people to explain what's important about an element of "good photography" (I suspect composition it the most profound element in the subject). ...more

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